What can you do to help your child who may be struggling in school?

I have two decades of experience in education curriculum, professional development training, parent engagement, youth leadership, and more.

So when parents approach me about this issue, here’s what I would say:

There’s typically some underlying reason that leads our children to struggle in school. And our job as parents is to find out what that is. You can do this by helping your children solve and come alongside them and affirm they have your support in finding a solution.

If your child is starting to get frustrated with a topic that doesn’t make sense, take study breaks to help refresh their mind. Always reward good behavior to give them motivation, and implement any changes in their life that will help their study habits. 

Continue reading to uncover how you as a parent can help your child with their academics.


  • My Child Is Struggling in School: How Can I Help?
  • Signs Your Elementary Student is Struggling in Academics
  • Signs Your Middle Schooler is Struggling in Academics
  • Signs Your High School Student Is Struggling in Academics
  • Possible Reasons Your Child is Struggling Academically
  • An Academic Learning Program Designed To Help Struggling Students

The Top Ways You Can Help Your Struggling Child in School

It’s primarily your child’s responsibility to get back on their feet and put some extra work in, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything to help. Your assistance may prove extremely useful to your child. 

Here are a few ways that you can help. 

Validate Them

Children in grades 4-12 will need your help in validating how they are feeling and what is happening in their life. 

All it takes to get started is a simple conversation with your child to dig to the root of the problem. Be careful not to show any anger or disappointment in this conversation. Try to be empathetic, calm, and approachable so that your child would feel comfortable talking to you and feel safe that you won’t judge them.

Reach Out to Their Teachers

Teachers have likely noticed that your child has been struggling and may be able to point out exactly what the issue is.

After talking with your child and the teachers, you can come up with a way to tackle this problem together.

Set Clear Goals and Desired Outcomes

Before making any drastic changes, it’s important to reflect on what works and what doesn’t. Strategizing and discussing the desired outcome will help your child feel more ownership of the changes. With your guidance, your child will learn how to set realistic goals and earn a sense of achievement when goals are met.

Implement Necessary Changes

Start by designating a specific time for homework with no distractions. During that time, your child won’t be allowed to use their phone or other devices, go out, or watch TV. You should get involved, too. Check the homework once it’s done to make sure they are doing their assignments correctly. When homework is done too early or there is no homework, that’s a perfect time to supplement it with reading time.

Reward Good Behavior 

Reward your child when they make progress. This creates an additional source of motivation for your child. Some examples of rewards would be allowing them to go see a friend after their work is done, play video games, or watch some TV. The goal is to build internal motivation rather than just a quick fix.

Signs Your Elementary Student is Struggling in Academics

The sooner you notice that your child is struggling to catch up with their schoolwork, the better. These problems will not go away on their own, and without immediate attention, the problems will continue to grow. 

Children aren’t always open about their struggles in school. They may feel that you’ll punish them for not being good enough, or they may simply be embarrassed. Whatever the case, it’s important for you to learn to recognize the early signs that your child is struggling. 

Here are a few common ones:

  • Refusing to talk about school
  • Misbehaving in class

Your Child Refuses to Talk About School

Up until a few weeks ago, your child was more than happy to tell you about their schoolwork, classmates, and teachers. But now things have changed. When you ask them about school, you often receive vague answers or outright refusal to talk. Pay close attention to what your child does talk about. It’s possible they are only refusing to talk about certain subjects and not school in general.

What’s causing this shift in behavior? It’s safe to assume that there is some kind of a problem at school. You’ll clearly need to investigate further and find out exactly what it is and if it’s performance-related.

Misbehaving in Class

Children who don’t understand their schoolwork get bored which often leads to misbehaving. So if you start receiving complaints from teachers about your child’s behavior, don’t just punish or scold them. Take a look at their grades and overall performance to get some deeper insight on what is causing the ill behavior. 

Signs Your Middle Schooler is Struggling in Academics

Like the younger kids, there is a possibility your middle schooler might not wish to talk about their challenges in school. 

Here is one sign you may notice in your child:

  • Works on homework for too long

Working on Homework for Too Long

You might be happy to see your child work diligently on their homework. But before you start celebrating, pay attention to how long they’re doing their homework. If they spend an hour on a single task, they are clearly struggling. 

The fact that your child is still willing to work is certainly a good thing. You can help them out before they fall too far behind.

Signs Your High School Student Is Struggling in Academics

High schoolers are just as unwilling to talk about their school struggles as any other students. They might be even more dismissive of the topic than others simply because they believe they are old enough to handle things on their own. 

Here are a few signs to show that your high schooler is struggling:

  • Irritability
  • Changes in social habits

Irritability, Especially When Discussing Schoolwork

Teenagers are known to be fairly irritable, so you might not make much of their refusal to discuss schoolwork but you shouldn’t dismiss it. Try to talk to them and gauge where the problem is, or check in with their teachers. That might give you some necessary insight into why your child is often in a bad mood.

Changes in Social Habits

If you notice that your child is unusually quiet or withdrawn, you might want to look into it further. Some teenagers are naturally more withdrawn so it’s only alarming if it is out of their norm. This can be a telltale sign of your child struggling academically. 

Possible Reasons Why Your Child is Struggling Academically

Once you can determine why your child is struggling academically you are better able to help them out, but it can be hard figuring out exactly what the problem is. 

We have gathered a few reasons that could be the cause of your child’s struggles and possible solutions to consider.

Reasons Solutions to consider % of students who experience this
Stress Don’t over schedule, ensure good sleep, serve healthy diets, incorporate daily exercise, & model self care Nearly 45%
Slow at learning Practice specific skills, work on planning and organization, talk to the school  N/A
Special educational needs Give your child some undivided attention, be an advocate for your child, keep goals clear 14.4% (of kids under the age of 18)

The best thing to do for your child is to listen to them and pay close attention to their behavior. You will be amazed at what you learn about your child by simply listening and watching.

An Academic Learning Program Designed To Help Struggling Students

If you feel that your child needs extra help overcoming their academic struggles, you should look into one of Excellerate’s academic programs. These programs quickly gauge your child’s knowledge and then set specific goals to help measure their progress. 

Aside from helping children become better at subjects they are struggling in, Excellerate also teaches them how to take notes, manage their time, and self-regulate. All these skills come in handy at various stages of their education.

What’s more, the program is specifically adjusted to your child’s needs, and the teachers are academic coaches with years of experience in the field. Your child will receive the best possible education that is sure to help them catch up with their schoolwork in no time!

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